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Beaver v. Brumlow

231 P.3d 628 (2010)

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Beaver v. Brumlow

New Mexico Court of Appeals

231 P.3d 628 (2010)

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Facts

Michael and Karen Brumlow (plaintiffs) entered into an oral agreement with Warren and Betty Beaver (defendants) to purchase a parcel of real property located on the Beavers’ 24-acre tract. Michael worked for the race horse transportation business owned and operated by the Beavers. Thereafter, Michael and Warren walked and marked off the specific boundaries of the proposed parcel of property to be sold. Additionally, the Brumlows cashed in their IRA and 401(k) retirement plans to pay for the home and improvements. The Brumlows placed a mobile home on the proposed property, spent approximately $85,000 making improvements, and moved in. No formal sale documents were prepared because the Beavers learned that their mortgage contained a due-on-sale clause that required the entire amount to be paid when the land was sold. When the Brumlows consistently requested that a contract for the sale be formalized, they were told “we will work it out,” by the Beavers. Although a date was never mentioned for the sale of the property and a price was never determined, the Brumlows had stated that they would pay the market price for the land. After leaving the employment of the Beavers and working for a competitor, the relationship between the Brumlows and Beavers deteriorated. Thereafter, the Beavers changed their minds about selling the land to the Brumlows and, instead, attempted to lease the property to them. At that point the Brumlows had been living on the property for nearly three years. The Beavers also attempted to eject the Brumlows from their property. The Brumlows brought suit against the Beavers to enforce the oral agreement to purchase the property. At trial, the Beavers argued that enforcement of the oral agreement was barred by the statute of frauds. The trial court disagreed and ordered specific performance of the contract to sell the property. The Beavers appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Vigil, J.)

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